Thursday, August 30, 2012

Directions to the Farm from Toronto


535 Catering Rd

  • 401E to 404N
  • 404N to Davis Drive (near Newmarket)
  • East on Davis Drive to Hwy 48 (about 7 minutes on Davis Drive)
  • North on 48 (for about 15 mins) to Ridgeview (this is just after the town of Baldwin)
  • Left on Ridgeview
  • Follow Ridgeview, and it will turn into Old Homestead Rd
  • Turn Right on Catering Rd.
  • Turn left into 535 Catering rd.
647-388-7444, if you have any troubles.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Farm Talk: Reflections on this Farming Season

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update
April/May rocked! Tons of seeds and seedlings planted in the ground. CSA Membership is at an all-time high. Staff & Intern team are phenomenal. Volunteers coming in droves. A lack of precipitation throughout, but a couple well-timed rains keep us happy. 8 crops look to be ready to go for the first week of June, when the CSA is to start. From the perspective of The Cutting Veg boss, I couldn't have been happier with the season to this point.

June/July started well. Great harvests for the first couple weeks of the CSA and farmers markets. Members are happy. But some of the key early summer crops aren't doing well due to a lack of rain. The zukes and cukes aren't germinating. Multiple timelines of beets, carrots, salad greens, and Asian greens are lost as well. Most of the crops we were counting on for July and early August never produce. Summer drought + a winter & spring without precipitation = empty pond = inability to irrigate. Amazing how things can turn from great to lousy so quickly on an organic farm.

August finally brings some rains. But is it a case of too-little-too-late, or just-in-time? Lots of reason for optimism. Eggplants, peppers, winter squash, sweet potatoes, melons, and the second timelines of zukes and cukes are all looking healthy. But they're all delayed due to the drought. The big question: when will the first frost be? If it is as early as last year (the first frost came on Sept 12 on Elm Grove Farm), it will be a huge disappointment. But, if the frost holds off until late September or early October, we could have a late summer bounty. Those of us who pray are sending regular messages...

We're proud we've been able to provide 8-10 items of super-nutritious, local, organic produce to our CSA members each week --- in spite of the challenges we've faced. And time spent on the farm has been a huge highlight for volunteers, interns, CSA members, and staff alike --- amazing connections, great learning, and significant character development for many of us.

How late-summer and early-fall go will determine how successful a year we have from a production perspective. In the meantime, we're doing our best to continue our successful intention to stay-in-the-moment, and remain hyper-focused on our calling of "Growing Veggies, and Growing People."

Stories From the Field
Hola Amigos, my name is Erick and I am a dude from Mexico. In the spring I became part of The Cutting Veg family. I have a bachelor in Graphic Design and Photography. I am currently working in an organic and raw juice bar, which has been a big turning point in following a more healthy life style. Why did I decide to become a part of The Cutting Veg community? Well, I have always dreamed of living on a farm, waking up in the early morning by the sound of a roster, and spending the rest of my day with a peaceful mind, doing meaningful work with like-minded people.

However, one day I realized that I was too far from this dream. I found myself, doing things that I didn't like, working only for money and a social status, and without a clear idea of how I could fulfill my dream. Then, last summer, I heard a good friend talking about The Cutting Veg, and the passion that she had while describing her experience made me very interested in doing the internship myself.

Working at the farm with soil, with food, with nature has made me feel that I can be more myself, that I can share who I am, and, in the process, I've found people who want to connect in the same way. This feels like a gift. I love the simplicity and honesty in the conversations that come up, and the many metaphors that the farm presents.

Now I feel that doing this internship, has been the first step towards fulfilling my dream. Thank you to you all, for creating such an amazing place.

Produce this Week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Salt Spring Garlic, Kale , Onions , Beets or Winter Squash. From Zephyr Organic Farm: Corn, Red Peppers, Leaf Lettuce.

Volunteers Welcome
Each week we welcome volunteers to the farm from Sunday-Friday, 7:15am-4pm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week or next, please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com and mention what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Bloor & Christie area). Hope to see you on the farm soon!

Recipe: ZUCCHINI LASAGNA (www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
3 large zucchinis, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 cup tomato sauce (home made is even better!)
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup canned lentils
¾ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Layer the bottom of a shallow baking dish with a few zucchini slices.
Cover with a thin layer of lentils and tomato sauce.
Add another layer of zucchini slices.
Throw some more tomato sauce on top, and mozzarella cheese.
Add the last layer of zucchini slices.
Top off with another layer of tomato sauce, basil and finally cheese.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese melts.

That's all the news from the farm for this week. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!
The Cutting Veg Farm Team



Monday, August 20, 2012

Farm Talk: Cultivating a Landscape

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Catherine
After a week that brought us a perfect mix of sunshine, rain and moderate temperatures, our crops are looking happy and healthy. A few highlights: our tomato crop is bountiful, our zukes, beautiful, bright and full of flavour and our basil crop; so fragrant that it inspires a pesto-making marathon with just one whiff! We've been sending our eggplant and bell pepper crops love and encouragement to grow abundantly all week, and took the first harvest of these two crops to Wychwood Farmer's Market this past Saturday! As we wait patiently for some of our other crops to pop, we tackled a number of weeding projects, including our Asparagus patch and our two Kale patches, some of the team sneezing and sniffling from the invasive rag weed that lays in our fields. As we snapped off the dead Kale leaves, making more space for new growth, we found ourselves talking about some of our most destructive habits, which then led us to draw another parallel between the process of clearing and weeding out what may need to be let go of within ourselves. One of the most wonderful aspects of this work is the exchange between the energy of the land and ourselves and the way in which this relationship invites us to draw the connection between our external and internal landscape. With just over 2 months left in the season, we look forward to continuing to cultivate our environment.

Stories From the Field
I’m Tara and last year I became an intern with the Cutting Veg to escape my claustrophobic, 2-level-below-ground computer lab.Being on the farm is always blissful: feeling the refreshing morning dews on my hands and feet, invoking the inner-child when working in our sandy-loam soil, indulging in the cuteness of bunnies with their little white button tails, watching red miniscule spiders crawl on my finger, being up-lifted by the same wind with which blue and yellow butterflies soar...All that goodness plus the though-provoking conversations with inspiring people who are more than friends, makes this farm a haven. I always feel so connected with nature and the divine when I’m on the farm. That’s why I got hooked! That’s why I am with the Cutting Veg this year; to assist them and also to try independent farming on a section of the farm.Ramadhan (Muslim’s month of fasting) is coming to its end. Being asked about fasting 17 hours a day and farming, I started reflecting. For sure, farming has significantly honed my physical strength, perseverance and tenacity. It has also changed my functional belief: an organic farmer must observe and listen; it is nature that dictates the next move. It is only when you tune in and listen deeply that curtains get parted and you get to see a different world...or really the same world but in a clearer way. Farm is my haven and only a little “e” separates it from heaven!

Produce this Week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Tomatoes, Basil, Persian Garlic, Chard/Kale, Onions. From Zephyr Organic Farm: Broccoli, Melons. From Sharon Mushroom Farms: Mushrooms

CSA Members Day: Save the Date
Come visit us for CSA Members' Day on the farm Sunday Septemer 9th. Come for some farming, taste testing, story-telling, activities, and fun for the whole family!

Volunteers Welcome
Each week we welcome volunteers to the farm from Sunday-Friday, 7:15am-4pm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week or next, please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com and mention what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Bloor & Christie area). Hope to see you on the farm soon!

Recipe: SUMMER BASIL PESTO (www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Rinse the basil. Leave to dry for about 5 minutes.
Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Serve on toasted baguette slices, or as a sauce in pizza or pasta.
If you have any leftovers, store them in a tightly covered container in the fridge.
Lasts for up to 3 weeks.

That's all the news from the farm for this week. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Farm Talk: Joys and Disappointments

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update
To be an organic farmer is to get used to a steady diet of joys and disappointments. And we're getting loads of both these days! The joy of completing the garlic harvest (28,000 bulbs total). The disappointment that the peppers and eggplants are taking so long to set fruit (slow recovery from the drought). The joy of ongoing rains! The disappointment of having to outsource veg for our CSA, due to crops that haven't worked out (again due to drought). The joy of physical farm work, and the incredible people we get to farm with each day. The disappointment of aphids eating our greens. And the pure joy of fresh tomato, basil & onion salads! Both the joys and disappointments offer gifts. As the dog days of summer continue, it's the little daily joys that keep us happy and motivated. Yet, it's the daily disappointments that help us to grow as farmers and as people. The crops that haven't worked out have taught us lessons on how to be better farmers. And dealing with disappointment is helping us to grow spiritually, as we learn to keep an even-keel, and practice gratitude for all that is going well. We need the joys to keep us going. We need the disappointments to keep us growing and learning. I LOVE FARMING SO MUCH --- it is just so cool how growing veggies teaches us key life lessons!

Stories From the Field
Hi, My name is Jessica Reeve and I am an intern at The Cutting Veg this year. I am in the middle of a two year Masters of Environmental Studies program at York University focusing on food systems and community activism. I am also currently gaining experience as an intern in an urban agriculture CSA in Toronto as well as doing some food policy and food advocacy work.As I have come to learn more about the food system and the importance of local food production it made more and more sense to learn how food is grown in addition to knowing the theory and practice around food production. Having that knowledge will also support the more sustainable lifestyle that I intend to lead. The Cutting Veg provides this opportunity in a part-time format that is easy to fit into most schedules. They also ensure that everyone is supported and is getting everything that they can out of this experience. I love going to the farm and getting my hands dirty. Having your hands in the dirt is a really calming and satisfying experience. After being stuck in a classroom all year it feels amazing to get outside and do something really practical. I am learning new things every day and am developing a new appreciation for the amount of work and love that goes into growing food organically. Every single person working at The Cutting Veg is amazing and I can't think of better people or a better way to spend the good part of the year.  My favourite farm task is harvesting rainbow chard. It is so fun to make sure that each person receiving that bundle gets a variety of colours in a nice bouquet.

Produce this Week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Chinese Garlic, Kale, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Onions, Parsley. From Pfennings Organic Farm: Eggplant, Purple Peppers, Corn.

New this Week, at Your CSA
We want your feedback! The good, the bad, and the ugly - we'd like to hear what you think about your CSA experience so far. Drop us a note in the feedback box provided at your CSA this week. Also this week - recipe cards! Keep an eye out for a new recipe each week, using the veggies in your share. Have a recipe you'd like to contribute? Drop it in the feedback box too! We would be thrilled to pass it along.

Volunteers Welcome
Each week we welcome volunteers to the farm from Sunday-Friday, 7:15am-4pm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week or next, please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com and mention what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Bloor & Christie area). Hope to see you on the farm soon!

Recipe: SUMMER GAZPACHO SOUP (www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
1 1/2 cups ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup cucumbers, seeded and diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
¼ cup yellow pepper, diced
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 large ripe avocado, diced
1 cup tomato juice, low in salt
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper or black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, mix basil, tomato juice, olive oil, garlic, lime & lemon juice, cayenne & black pepper, and salt. Blend in the food processor. Pour the mixture in a large saucepan. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill before serving.

That's all the news from the farm for this week. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Monday, August 6, 2012

Farm Talk: Welcome to the Garlic Zone

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
With the onset of the garlic harvest, we begin one of my favourite phases of the year. The Garlic Zone. We enter The Zone at the beginning of August, and don't exit until the end of October. It starts with the harvest. We started with 100 bulbs in 2005, and, thanks to exponential growth, we are anticipating a harvest of approximately 35,000 bulbs this season. Once the bulbs are harvested, we hang them in the barn to cure for a month. This curing process allows the garlic stalks to send its final energy into the bulb, ensuring maximum flavour, nutrients, and storability. Once cured, the bulbs need to be cleaned and labeled according to their variety (eg, Persian Garlic, Korean, Italian, etc.) When the bulbs are cleaned and labeled, we start distributing them (although CSA members will receive bulbs immediately, starting with Israeli this week!) Meanwhile, we start preparing for planting. This includes setting aside the number of bulbs we want to plant, and then separating them into cloves. We also need to prepare beds for planting, which means adding countless loads of compost, and tilling. Finally, come mid-October, it is planting time. We are aiming to plant 75,000 cloves this year. Once the garlic is planted, we need to mulch the beds with straw, which will ensure consistent moisture levels, suppress weeds, and protect the garlic plants from a mid-winter thaw. As a mixed veggie farmer, I have a lot of crops that I love to grow. But none of them come close to garlic. The taste, the medicinal qualities, the joy of planting & harvesting, the 20 different fun varieties we grow. Garlic bliss. Welcome to The Garlic Zone!

Spread the Word! The Cutting Veg Summer-Fall Share
We are currently offering a Summer-Fall CSA Share Special for the remainder of the season: 13 weeks of produce for the price of 12! You can register now at www.thecuttingveg.com/CSA, and choose the 12 week option to take advantage of this offer. Some of the best heat lover and Fall crops are still to come!

Stories From the Field
Hi, my name is Lucie Pekarek and I'm an intern this year. I am also doing a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University and work as a site animator at the Welcome Desk at Evergreen Brick Works. When I first read about Daniel and The Cutting Veg I knew I wanted to get involved. I didn't know how or when but years ago I just knew I would be part of the team one day. That opportunity arose this year in my program at York, and I jumped at the chance! I knew the internship would be transformational on so many levels, and I'm now experiencing the first changes. Being a mature student for over 4 years, I wasn't nearly active enough. I'm giving my body the much-needed attention it desires through work and incorporating clean good food into my once really bad diet. Our team of interns/staff/volunteers are some of the most amazing people I've met and I am enjoying their support, love, and advice in the fields--even under the heat of the sun. So far my favorite tasks have been planting the asparagus, harvesting the garlic scapes, and eating the peas during harvest! I also get a lot of satisfaction in pulling the weeds, as our soil is like gold which makes them really easy to pull out.

Produce this Week
We started with green garlic, then came the garlic scapes, and now finally, we've got bulbs! We grow approximately 20 different varieties of garlic on the farm, each with their unique flavours. You will get to try and compare several of them over the course of the season. First up: Israeli garlic this week! This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Garlic, Onions, Beets, Swiss Chard, Zucchini, Sunflowers. From Pfennings Organic Farm: Eggplant, Purple Peppers, Corn.

Volunteers Welcome
Each week we welcome volunteers to the farm from Sunday-Friday, 7:15am-4pm. If you are interested
in helping on the farm this week or next, please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com and mention what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Bloor & Christie area). Hope to see you on the farm soon!

Recipe: BORCHT SOUP (www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
4 medium beets, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced
5 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 small can of tomato paste
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
8 cups water
Heat oil in a medium pot. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir until a uniform mixture forms.
Add water to the pot and mix. Bring to a boil and add beets, potatoes and carrots. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Add the parsley at the end. Mix.
Serve warm or chilled with sour cream.

That's all the news from the farm for this week.  Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

The Cutting Veg Farm Team